The traditional perception of development in industrialised countries has centred on the notion of assistance. Rich nations (“the North”) can accompany and support the development efforts of poorer nations (“the South”). The quest has been to find how to best provide such support. Which programmes and policies would be most effective?
How to ensure sustainability of the effort and the outcomes? How to best engage developing countries in this endeavour?In spite of various – successive or parallel – waves of development strategies promoted by the international community1
and bilateral donors, it remains questionable whether sustainable solutions have been found to development challenges. But in recent years, the whole approach to development by traditional actors has been further challenged by the increasingly important trend of South-South cooperation. While not new per se, this emerging trend offers complementary and often alternative approaches to development. While Northern development cooperation actors have often framed
their approach in the “we will help you” framework, the policy discourse on cooperation among developing countries tends to be framed in a more “equal footing” approach. This discourse argues that developing countries do not need to be taught
about how to grow. Instead, they can share their own development experience and
knowledge in a less prescriptive, more open-ended manner, so as to generate tailor made solutions respecting the specificities of each situation. This South-South exchange is arguably driven by what Fraeters and Maruri (2010) call “the power of double demand: the desire to learn and the desire to share”.